For the last three years, I’ve written a blog post about the staffing climate and the lack of creative talent, thanks to a steadily declining unemployment rate (to the lowest point in 50 years) and the overall talent gap in the United States. With external financial and political factors in constant flux, the U.S. economy can seem somewhat unpredictable. However, from the recruiter’s standpoint the present concern is that, in an economy that continues to operate at full employment, a lack of available creative talent continues to be an issue. The demand for qualified creative professionals remains high, especially in the areas of user experience, full-stack development, content development, project management and digital marketing. 

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In-house agencies are growing as corporations find ways to decouple their creative work from advertising agencies and move more and more work in-house. According to Cella’s 2019 In-House Creative Industry Report, 38% of in-house agencies planned to increase their current full-time headcount and 26% planned to increase their total spend on freelancers. Finding new ways to recruit and retain talent will be a critical focus for in-house agencies and marketing teams as we move into this new decade. Certainly, partnering with recruiting professionals is an effective way to address current staffing challenges.

In addition, here are three trends to be mindful of in 2020:

1. New generation of talent. In 2020, Generation Z (those born between 1996 and 2010) will be entering the workforce for the first time. This generation was raised on the Internet and social media. Google existed before they were born.

  • Recruitment: The average user spends two hours and 22 minutes on social media each day. Utilizing social media—not only to advertise open positions but also the company’s vision, mission, and culture—is imperative for actively engaging with this community. According to Ryan Jenkins, generation expert and writer for, Generation Z’s top platform for learning about a company is YouTube, followed by Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter, and then Glassdoor. YouTube is critical for businesses wanting to build a strong employment brand and to generate interest in their organization among this young workforce. 
  • Retention: While members of Generation Z are very tech savvy, they also highly value human interaction. According to Jenkins, the human elements of "supportive leadership" and "positive relationships at work" were Generation Z's two most important factors to consider in a job. They tend to be more competitive than the generation before them, the Millennials, who are more collaborative. And Generation Z is also more entrepreneurial and concerned with their salary. They are averse to debt, strive for financial freedom and are willing to put in the work to reach it.  They are self-learners and crave information that will help them excel in their careers. A strong learning and development practice, frequent check-ins and a strong culture of work/life balance are all critical for attracting and retaining this new generation of potential employees.​​​​​​

2. Hiring for attitude and aptitude. Employers face a global skills gap that is estimated to cost $8.5 trillion in unrealized economic output. Essentially, creative job openings are way more plentiful than the professionals available to fill them. Therefore, most candidates are unlikely to check all of the must-have boxes listed on the agency’s job descriptions. With technology and roles constantly evolving and changing, employers need to learn how to hire for soft skills such as flexibility, communication, collaboration and innovation, as well as for hard skills. Does the candidate have high potential to not only handle your current opening, but also future openings as your group evolves and changes? Strong onboarding, orientation and continuing education programs are essential for meeting the demands of an in-house agency’s continued growth.

3. Remote working becomes the norm, not the exception. Remote work is not new to 2020, but it will become more the rule than the exception moving forward. According to Cella’s 2019 In-House Creative Industry Report, 90% of companies noted that their staff have the ability to work remotely, 30% of which can either do it regularly and/or with full autonomy. Off-site and remote work allows in-house teams to fill more project-based and freelance needs, since geography won’t limit their search for talent. Remote work does not come without its challenges, and it is important to have a well-documented and -enforced work-from-home policy in place. 

In summary, finding and hiring exceptional talent won’t get any easier in 2020. Staying in front of market trends will be critical to growing and retaining your staff to support your business goals. Recruitment and retention practices should be evaluated on an annual basis. Hopefully this list will provide some inspiration to build on. If you need assistance in staffing the right creative teams that will enhance the value and scope of your in-house agency—in 2020 and beyond—let us know. Our specialists will be glad to help.